Relational equilibrium, Amposta

Wilson, Andrew (2008). Relational equilibrium, Amposta. In Shane Murray, Diego Ramirez-Lovering and Simon Whibley (Ed.), ReHousing: 24 housing projects (pp. 44-49) Melbourne, Vic., Australia: RMIT University Press.

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Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Wilson, Andrew
Title of chapter Relational equilibrium, Amposta
Title of book ReHousing: 24 housing projects
Place of Publication Melbourne, Vic., Australia
Publisher RMIT University Press
Publication Year 2008
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
Year available 2008
ISBN 9781921426063
Editor Shane Murray
Diego Ramirez-Lovering
Simon Whibley
Chapter number 7
Start page 44
End page 49
Total pages 6
Total chapters 24
Collection year 2009
Language eng
Subjects B1
120101 Architectural Design
Formatted Abstract/Summary
This is an architectural competition entry to the Quaderns International Housing Competition 400,000, 2004, a competition that asked for a rethinking of growth in the face of a projected population increase in the Barcelona region of 400,000 people over the next twenty years. We develop a scenario for the least dense site adjacent to Amposta about two hours from Barcelona around the idea of relational equilibrium. Here programs traditionally hostile to each other cohabit. In the Barcelona region one of the crucial housing problems is its prohibitive cost in Barcelona. It is too expensive for low‐income groups forcing them to live in surrounding towns and commute. Barcelona becomes a no go zone.

In our scenario the surrounding towns become desirable and affordable to a range of income groups. The town of Amposta is located beside the western edge of the delta flood plain of the river Ebre on its southern side and at the start of a new terrain of hills and plain. The defined site nominated for the competition is adjacent to Amposta between the CN340 highway and the TV3408 local road that runs in parallel with a canal. This territory starts at Amposta and ends at the port of Sant Carles de la Ràpita to the south. Our proposal extends the site to this whole area including the two towns at either end. We spread an uneven mat of redevelopment between the canal and the highway, a mat of uneven densities to intensify the connection between the towns. Rather than obliterating the farming activities we propose maintaining and even intensifying farming as part of the programmatic mix. There are two distinctive plot types identifiable through the site; rice field plots which tend to be square and long plots typical of olive groves, vineyards and other farming. Farmhouses carve a space in between these connected by tractor paths and roads often adjacent to irrigation canals. Light industry is also evident. A winding irrigation canal separates the rice fields and long plots. A thin space runs along the canal adjacent to the site along its eastern edge.

Two kinds of built form:
Vertical and horizontal courtyard mats: We propose a development scenario that transforms and intensifies existing patterns. Existing productive farms are maintained. The housing program requirement is achieved by dense mats of horizontal courtyard type in the long plot zone and a vertical configuration derived from this courtyard type located in the thin space parallel to a proposed transport canal. In this thin space landscape and recreational program are interspersed with built form allowing a variety of conditions adjacent to the canal. The horizontal mats allow a mixture of housing and other programs like cafes, crèches, retail outlets, home offices, schools etc. These can fill an entire plot or fragment as the particularities of site dictate. The relatively high density of individual plot development allows other adjacent plots to accommodate farming, landscape, recreational program, additional car parking etc. It is envisaged that the development will rely on the two towns for some programmatic requirements. We also imagine that the transformations occur in the two towns.

Unlike accepted patterns of growth where cities expand outward at the expense of adjacent farmlands, we imagine a state where the existing plot structure is maintained, where agriculture, housing and other architectural, landscape and infrastructural programs achieve a state of sustainable equilibrium. These states would be achieved over time according to need starting at points that having the greatest immediate potential. The development would grow and shrink. The character and pattern of surrounding farmlands is thus maintained and light industry would be intensified in those areas already given over to this activity adjacent to the town.

Building density and desirability:
In our scenario we show the specific site given by the competition developed to the index of building levels as specified: 0.12 sqm of built floor area. This site is significant given that it is adjacent to the town. We do this to illustrate our idea, to show that the existing index is achievable and to show how the mat connects with the town and potential mixes of program. They extend and intensify existing patterns. We also illustrate what this transformation might look like across the whole territory. Crucial to this equation is the continuation of farming activities: a relational equilibrium. We imagine the distinctive character of our proposal would provide a specific desirable lifestyle choice allowing access to nature, contact with agriculture and a sense of collective occupation of the whole territory at the same time. The vertical mat housing type would provide potential views to the hills to the west and across the delta to the east.

Each developed plot would aim to function as a closed loop with systems in place to recycle and manage waste, production of power via solar panels, water collection and storage etc. With agriculture maintained and the introduction of landscape programs like park, sports fields and forest/other plantings there is an intensification of planting across the territory. The existing canal system is extended and used for transport and a pattern of lakes transforming some plots at specific locations. Key to our response to the issue of sustainability is the notion of relational equilibrium between all programmatic components.

We propose that all architectural programs be accommodated in the horizontal and vertical courtyard types coexisting with the existing pattern of farmhouses. We propose a light rail line running between Sant Carles de la Ràpita and Amposta, beside the CN340 highway. We also imagine an upgrading of the canal and the extension of this canal across the site connecting into lakes. Secondary roads would give access off these spines on either side. These secondary roads would involve an upgrading of existing roads and tractor paths. A system of walking paths and bike paths would also be added. The new infrastructure would effectively stitch the linear canal development and the long plot zones together.
Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

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Created: Mon, 09 Mar 2009, 13:49:31 EST by Deirdre Timo on behalf of Faculty Of Engineering, Architecture & Info Tech